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    Actor, producer, UN ambassador. Our multitasker Farhan Akhtar is many things, and is in Chennai next weekend

    This is not a great time to interview Farhan Akhtar—the actor has just announced his separation from wife of 14 years, Adhuna. And though his latest release, Wazir, is being circulated as a hit, critics have been particularly harsh on the actor. Not unexpected, considering he has had to match wits with the indomitable Amitabh Bachchan. But he has a concert lined up in the city next month, at the Amir Mahal, and I find myself exchanging perfunctory greetings with the actor over the phone. We start with his apparent plans to bring out a single. “Yes. This is a part of a lot of material I have written over the years and I am just getting it out in some way. I think a single is the best way to start,” offers the Mumbai-based actor. The title will be announced officially.

    Band width
    His next big release, Rock On!! 2, the sequel to the successful Rock On!!, is getting ready, with a release date marked in November. Produced by Akhtar and Riteish Sidhwani (Excel Entertainment), the majority is shot in Shillong and reportedly focusses on the conflicts in the North-East. Though he begins by saying he “can’t discuss creativity and content of Rock On much,” Akhtar admits on a personal level that it was “nice to go back to the sets, the character and music.” They have more or less retained the same cast, though Shujaat Saudagar has replaced Abhishek Kapoor as director. “It was a nice happy reunion of all the characters. There are new members joining the band, like Shraddha Kapoor and Shashank Arora—and they bring in their own musical influence that changes the sound of the band,” says the actor. For the first edition, he had learnt the guitar. Has he learned a new instrument this time around? “No, I am still learning to play the guitar in Rock On!! 2. I don’t think it is possible to stop learning—these musical instruments, you can keep learning till you die,” is the laughing rejoinder by the 42-year-old.

    Being choosy
    Akhtar is known to be selective about his roles. Dil Dhadakne Do was his only release last year, and that was more of a special appearance. “When I read a script, I just want to be excited — that’s the predominant factor. On some levels, it is like you are the audience of that movie. You are getting to read, experience and see it like an audience. You want to be engaged by it,” explains the actor about his selection process. His last directorial was Don 2 (2011). Planning anything new? “Not at the moment, but definitely on the cards.”
    Apart from Rock On!! 2 — Akhtar and Sidhwani are producing Bar Bar Dekho, a romantic comedy directed by newcomer Nithya Mehra and the biggie Raees with Shah Rukh Khan. “You want to enjoy the process, the script. Then you want the right people to play those characters,” says Akhtar.

    Cause and effect
    Akhtar is one of the most proactive actors on social media. Kalki Koechlin once described him as “one of the rare advocates of feminism in Bollywood.” MARD (Men against Rape and Discrimination) is a social campaign launched by him. “I don’t think you have to be a celebrity of any description to contribute to a social cause. I think those are two completely different sides to us. It is important to contribute, be responsible and make things better, if I can, in my own way. As long as some change must be propagated we must keep trying,” he signs off.

    On February 6. Farhan Akhtar Live is presented by Touch and is in support of Vajra, Pooja Malhotra’s NGO for spreading awareness about women’s safety. Tickets (from `1,000) available on in.bookmyshow.com and eventjini.com Details: 9940164454

    — Neelima Menon

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